Cowboy Defense Steps Up

STILLWATER - Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman wasn't giving out any gold stars at the start of Friday's second and final major scrimmage for the Cowboys this spring, but by the end of the scrimmage the defense was getting plenty of plaudits from all corners.

It is true that when the defense came out for the first scrimmage work with the offense coming off the 2-yard line the offense escaped thanks to some good blocking by the OSU offensive line and some healthy runs by the likes of Kendall Hunter, Beau Johnson, and a 47-yard beauty in second team versus second team work by Citadel transfer Melvin Davis.

The last play of the coming out work saw redshirt freshman and celebrated recruit at defensive end Richetti jones make a lightning bolt move into the backfield to tackle Michael Roberts in the end zone for a safety. That signaled a turn around as when they moved the ball out to let the offense start at the 30-yard line the defense put the stops out on the next six possessions, including four three-and-outs and an interception by redshirt freshman Adrian Moore.

"It was a good scrimmage today," opened head coach Mike Gundy in his review of the 144 plays of work that lasted a crisp two hours and 15 minutes. "I thought the defense played well other than the start coming off the goal line, that they made some plays and were adjusting, did some blitzing and put a lot of pressure on the offense.

"There were a few big plays by the offense but I thought the defense played well once they got started. I thought the backup quarterbacks played better but the defensive players took the prize today."

Beckman said, "I do see us doing things better than we have in the past. "We definitely need to have marked improvement."

The first offense struggled with incompletions, a couple of near interceptions, and little room to run on the ground. The defense mixed up looks and fronts and defensive ends Derek Burton and Ugo Chinasa, along with defensive tackle Jeray Chatham and linebacker Orie Lemon, all made plays. Burton and Chinasa deflected passes while Chatham made tackles and Lemon did both. It was a good day to be a defensive lineman.

"It was good and we are all coming together as a defense," said defensive tackle Jeray Chatham. "Orie and all of our young players and the defensive coordinator calling all the right plays. It was just all there. The more depth we have the better we rotate out there and the better we tire out the offensive linemen. Coach Spencer really wants us to keep our arms up and those three-step passes and Ugo with those long arms can really bat passes."

OSU quarterback Zac Robinson said, "I think the defense came out and played well. We were kind of shooting ourselves in the foot early and had some problems with changing tempos and stuff but you have to give credit to the defense because they won today. You win some, you lose some and we always want to be on the winning side, but you have to give them credit. They called some pretty good blitzes today."

Co-offensive coordindator Gunter Brewer said, "There's no adjustments being made because there is no offense and defense. In a game you have a chance to huddle the offense up on the sidelines and say they are doing this or doing that. Right now the defense has a lot of good stuff in and you just have to give them credit."

The offense got going with a kick start as Robinson hit Damian Davis for a 22-yard gain. Davis had a good day with four catches for 38 yards, including a 10-yard diving reception that got the attention of the crowd of close to 200.

Running backs Kendall Hunter and Beau Johnson each contributed a couple of runs before Johnson pushed the ball in from the 1-yard line on a tough run off right tackle. Earlier in the drive Hunter seemingly started through a hole, but jetted back out of it only to pick a path that made for a bigger gain of 9 yards to the outside. The top two backs combined for 151 yards and an average of more than 7 yards a carry.

"I've seen Kendall and he can make some big plays but Beau Johnson has stepped up big time," said Robinson. "He has come in here and learned the system and you saw him breaking tackles left and right. It is going to really help having those two guys, and when (Keith) Toston gets healthy having those three guys we have all that we need back there."

"Kendall and Beau are coming along really well," said Gundy. "I've been impressed with both of them, especially with Beau and his ability to pick up our system so quick, He has had a surprisingly low number of MA's (missed assignments). He has performed very well and is durable."

The scrimmage situations varied, but while not being real consistent 24-year-old former minor league pitcher and Edmond Santa Fe quarterback Brandon Weeden may have made progress in the battle for the backup quarterback spot on the depth chart. Weeden, competing with sophomore Alex Cate, only completed 7-of-16 passes, but did throw for three touchdowns.

Weeden hit a wide open Jeremy Broadway for a 30-yard score off a pump fake. He finished a short drive by hitting William Cole in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard score and also connected with Dez Bryant on a 25-yard touchdown that featured a sensational run by Bryant after the catch.

Cate also directed a scoring drive meaning each quarterback did lead the offense to the end zone. Cate's drive included completions by the Salt Lake City product to Josh Cooper and Damian Davis and was finished by a 35-yard run by Kendall Hunter.

The defense had its share of highlights after being so stingy at the start. There were five sacks including defensive tackle Quincey Patrick being involved in two. Safety T.J. Bell forced and recovered a Melvin Davis fumble. Perrish Cox picked off an errant Zac Robinson pass as Robinson had two open receivers running down the left sideline and the ball hung in the middle allowing Cox to steal it and return it 63 yards before the speedy William Cole caught up with him.

"I think it's big, it is really contageous (big hits), since Lucien (Antoine) got here everybody is making big hits," said former safety and now star linebacker Andre Sexton. "You see T.J. (Bell) making big hits, Markelle (Martin) came out of high school, and even little A.D. (Moore) making hits. We are becoming a much more physical defense."

In the goal-line work Chatham, Patrick and Antoine all came up with big hits and Zac Robinson did catch a touchdown as he pitched to running back Beau Johnson on an old favorite, the option pass throw back to the quarterback. Johnson hit Robinson in stride for the score. A play the head coach remembers well catching from both Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders in his day.

"That was a lot of fun," said Gundy. "We put in some plays the last two days that are fun. It actually worked better because we haven't coached it. When you coach it too much at times it doesn't pan out too well, but we hadn't run that one."

The scrimmage finished with some work on special teams with kickoff return, kickoff, and punt return getting a good workout. Dez Bryant, Johsn Cooper, and newcomer Bo Bowling all worked on returns. All of the placements were good during the scrimmage with extra points. The only exception was when Gundy had two kicks tried from 37 yards simulating a penalty. Sophomore kicker Dan Bailey was wide on the first one, but hit all others and really boomed his kickoffs.

"We want to work our kicking game these last two or three practices and get it on tape and see if there aren't some young players that want to help us in that area," added Gundy. "Obviously, the snappers, the punters, kickers, and holders need some live work because they don't get a lot of it and we'll that some more next week."

Some aspects of the special teams are being handled by other coaches and that may help some this year.

"It's different and it brings different coaching aspects to each special teams and the guys that are on just about every unit," said senior long snapper Zach Allen. "I think it is good to get a little change of pace and a little different demeanor like with kickoff returns going a little bit different with Coach (Trooper) Taylor out there. It allows Coach DeForest to look at us specialists; punter, snapper, holder; better and probably keeps us on our game a little more."

The Cowboys practice next Monday and Wednesday before the finale on Saturday, April 12, with the 4 p.m. Orange-White Game followed with the Cowboys and Country theme by a free concert featuring Keith Anderson in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Note: Scoring Summary and Statistics do not include goal-line or special teams portions of the scrimmage. They are not official and should not be posted as such.

Scoring Summary
Richetti Jones tackles Michael Roberts for 2-yard loss and safety

Beau Johnson 1-yard touchdown run - PAT Good, Drive: 13 plays - 70-yards

Jeremy Broadway 30-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden - PAT Good, Drive: 5 plays - 30-yards

William Cole 13-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden - PAT Good, Drive: 8 plays - 30-yards

Kendall Hunter 35-yard touchdown run - PAT Missed, Drive: 7 plays - 60-yards

Dez Bryant 25-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden - PAT Good, Drive: 6 plays - 60-yards

Scrimmage Statistics

Beau Johnson 17 carries - 79-yards, TD, Long-14-yards
Kendall Hunter 12 carries - 72-yards, TD, Long-35-yards
Melvin Davis 14 carries - 58-yards, Long-47-yards
Michael Roberts 12 carries - 49-yards, Long-13-yards
Zac Robinson 6 carries - 16-yards, Long-5-yards

Brandon Weeden 16-7-1, 100-yards, 3TD, Long-30-yards
Zac Robinson 15-8-1, 85-yards, Long-22-yards
Alex Cate 9-5-0, 51-yards, Long-13-yards

Dez Bryant 4 rec. - 63-yards, TD, Long-25-yards
Damian Davis 4 rec. - 38-yards, Long-22-yards
Jeremy Broadway 2 rec. - 35-yards, TD, Long-30-yards
William Cole 4 rec. - 31-yards, TD, Long-13-yards
Ben Bowling 2 rec. - 31-yards, Long-17-yards

Defensive Statistics
Andre Sexton 11 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack
Orie Lemon 9 tackles, 1 PBU
Jamie Blatnick 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 PBU
Lucien Antoine 6 tackles
Quincey Patrick 5 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks
Richetti Jones 5 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 PBU
Tonga Tea 5 tackles, 1 TFL
Jonathan Lewis 4 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 PBU
Jacob Lacey 4 tackles, 1 FC
Quinton Moore 4 tackles, 1 PBU
Ricky Price 4 tackles
T.J. Bell 2 tackles, 1 FC, 1 FR
Adrian Moore 3 tackles, 1 INT
Perrish Cox 2 tackles, 1 INT-63-yard return

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